Bill Etheridge Quits UKIP Leadership Race

One of the eight candidates to become UKIP's leader has pulled out of the contest, stating that one of his rivals is "the only person who can effectively unite our party".

West Midlands MEP, Bill Etheridge, added that the other contenders should follow his example and stand down in favour of current deputy leader Paul Nuttall.

He urged UKIP to stick to its "patriotic, libertarian" principles. Mr Nuttall announced on Sunday that he would run for leader.

Whoever wins the race will replace Nigel Farage, who is filling the role on a temporary basis. This follows the resignation of Diane James, who won the previous UKIP leadership election over the summer, who quit after just 18 days in the job.In his withdrawal statement, Mr Etheridge said:

"I always said that if a candidate better suited to take this party forward emerged I would back down and support them. That candidate has emerged. 

"Paul Nuttall is not only a personal friend and an honourable man but I believe he is the only person who can effectively unite our party after the recent well publicised problems we have suffered.

"I will be supporting Paul and giving him my 100% backing. I call on all other potential candidates to follow my example and withdraw from the race to allow Paul to go forward from here and unite our party."

Mr Etheridge also said: "I believe that UKIP must remain a patriotic, libertarian party standing for the individual against the over-powerful state, and not be tempted into cultural nationalism and the so-called centre ground on economic policy."

Mr Nuttall, an MEP for North-West England, described himself as the candidate to "bring the factions together" following months of infighting within UKIP.

Another candidate, Suzanne Evans, a former Conservative councillor who helped write UKIP's general election manifesto, announced on Sunday that she would run, promising to make the party less "toxic" and aim to occupy the "common sense centre" ground.

Former Welsh parliamentary candidate John Rees-Evans said on Monday that he would enter the contest, meaning there were eight candidates until Mr Etheridge stood down.

Nominations close on October 31st, with the eventual winner announced on November 28th.


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